Going through my writing on the computer, I have come across some things I’d almost forgotten about. Today’s post features about four pages of writing that I don’t think I could ever develop into something to sell. However, they do give an interesting look into my mind as I’m sitting at the computer writing. “Interesting” might be an exaggeration. However, there’s nothing that isn’t true in this.
I created this piece I in the mid-90s, I believe. Obviously, I already had a computer at home. And just as clearly the iPod lay years in the future. There’s no date on the document, and with the changes of computer since I started, the date that shows on the document is pretty well worthless for informational purposes. I referred to one of the Dick’s Picks selections, and I know that series was still pretty new to me when I worked on this, so I guess I could do a little research on when Dick’s Picks Number Three was released and have some idea about when I first wrote this.
The key thing is that I wanted to write and couldn’t come up with anything intelligent to say (an unfortunately common problem). So I just started writing whatever was in my mind. I think I read somewhere that real writers do this just to get themselves going. It’s called the “kindling process.” I guess you’re just trying to kindle the fire of creativity with whatever waste thoughts you have in your head. I’ll have to admit this is pretty wasteful…
Kindling, or Wasting Words
It’s getting started that’s the hardest.
Or maybe having to go back and fix your mistakes. Yes. That’s harder than getting started. It’s worse to stop the flow and consider. Was that the right thing to do? Was that what I wanted, what it needed, to have happen here?
And of course it wasn’t. It was a mistake. A horribly wrong choice that sent you down pages of blind alley to nowhere. Something so foully bad you just have to get rid of it and start over.
So it’s not getting started that’s hard. Actually that’s pretty easy most of the time. You just start. Open a new document and type. Okay, put on some good music, open that new document and type.
Keeping it up gets harder. There’s that game on the hard drive… You know you have better things to do, but you can’t get that game out of your mind. You only played it once, and it was incredibly hard, but maybe if you tried it again…
The music always ends. That’s a distraction. That’s time away from the machine.
So you put a tape deck and headphones right by the computer. That way you don’t even have to get up to change the music. It’s right there. You just grab another tape and shove the sucker in and keep going. Play a CD right on the computer itself, even faster. And the headset’s like a chain, holding you right there at the keyboard.
Well, you’ve got to decide what it is you want to listen to. Stick with Van? How about trying some classical, or jazz? Less distracting, just noise for the aurally deficient like yourself. Maybe something contemporary. No, you’re not getting old; you can still like this stuff. And maybe it’ll make you marketable, interesting to kids. If kids read any more at all, ever. Okay, Christopher Pike and R. L. Stine are everywhere. Harry Potter and Stephen King.
Maybe that’s the direction this thing should take. Simple horror.
But that’s just not you. What are you scared of?
Getting old. Getting broke. Getting sick. Getting dead.
Somebody’s mowing lawn outside.
There’s a job you have to do. But not today. —Strange, two innate tendencies work in your favor together here. Sheer sloth keeps you at the keyboard instead of getting up and doing real physical work. Small favors.
The song ends. There goes what little concentration you may have had.
Maybe you should have chosen The Dead, maybe Dick’s Picks Volume Three, when the songs just never seem to end, they just keep flowing one into the other. Were The Dead’s concerts really like that? You ponder the situation to yourself, because you were never at one and because you seem to be playing Dead sets constantly nowadays in your truck when you’re driving, and you can’t really imagine what the concert experience was really like in the first place.
Is there a story there? Some freak so terminally shy or antisocial that all his/her experiences are secondhand, via remote, prerecorded on tape? Think you could really write about yourself, sucker?
Okay, so you eject that au courant alternative crap and slide in the old tape-reel CD. And in a flash your ears and your head are back in 1973. Tampa on a December… what? Night? Afternoon? —Although The Dead never seem to sound dated somehow, maybe because their sound never really changed. Well, except for that Without a Net, that sounded different. Jerry using all those synthesizer add-ons for his guitar in the Nineties. But where does that take us? A time travel tale, the impossible worked via hippie tunes?
Once you dreamed such things. Listening to The Dead even. Up in the attic of the chapel on sunny springtime afternoons with the weekly lecture finished, staring through the dust motes drifting as lazy as your brain with that trashy piece-of-shit stereo cranked in the light booth, its cheap tinny speakers blaring Europe 72 for the whole campus to hear. Fat as the fuel for time travel. Recognize the potential time traveler because s/he’s gotten so huge, needing all that flab to burn, whitehot calories, to get outside and somewhen else in time. Had the whole concept worked out. Pretty cool. Just no story.
And it came back later. When you were working on the Fat Lady Sings poem cycle for she-who-shall-remain-nameless. “In the beginning there was fat…” Journeying foreverish through eternity and back to Constantinople with your redhaired girl… Fat chance there. Yeah.
Good joke there, if you caught it.
But who’ll ever catch it? She’s got the pages, had. You really think she’s got them still? Think she even remembers your name?
And you never wrote squat about those lovely middays in the Chapel attic. Only in your thoughts. Long days, spent dreaming, it seemed then, didn’t it? One late morning through midafternoon could stretch for what feels like several of your present days. Was it just youth? With less time spent behind you on being yourself, each moment seemed longer, richer, more filled with everything.
Childhood days were eternities. Entire arachnidlike lifetimes between rising and sleeping. Great argonautical ecstatic adventures from breakfast through lunch—evolutions of several subsequent species of yourself in just those few hours. Now not time enough to select the music to accompany your dull and uninspired thoughts. Each moment just a flash of doing something. Your entire existence squashed by the fine sands of productivity.
Endless evenings reading Edgar Allan Poe. Listening to Dylan on that cheap little stereo you smuggled into the attic of the Chapel (remember that spring morning you turned those tiny speakers out to the entire campus bellowing, so you thought, the dense wisdom of “Tangled Up in Blue” to the amazed and astounded campus populace?) A single sentence could feel like the slow change of æons, and an entire story was death and several rebirths of some kind or another. Was I who when?
Even in college you yearned with a painful, desperate nostalgia—especially in the afternoon when you might have a touch of a cold or something, lying in sunlight—for those impossibly endless lifetimes of immaturity. Drifting like those multitudinous dust motes in a thick and lazy almost Oriental air, imagining and inventing and almost fulfilling fantasies of travelling back/forward hither and yon whenever in time.
Can almost taste it right now, can’t you? If you weren’t so worried about what key your fingers were typing next. If you didn’t have that touch of a headache from those headphones pressing into your skull just above your eartip. If you weren’t humming along to “The Music Never Stopped” even as your goldendusty vision fades.
Yeah. No story there. No story anywhere. Just mindless reminiscence and fantasizing.
Great day outside. Clear sky, not a cloud in it. Just blue, limpid as crystal. And green, that full lush green of summer. Great day for a drive.
There’s your ideal lifestyle. Driving. You love that. Especially on a day like this, out in the country on some backroads highway dipping up and down through fields and woods. Surrounded by green and blue. Like you’re suspended between earth and sky. Suspended. Perfect.
Yeah, perfect. Going nowhere, caught between obligations. In transit. Nothing you have to care about or worry about.
Wouldn’t be like that in winter, though. Nothing like snow—worse, ice—to make a drive into nothing but worry.
So there it is: a brief glimpse into my mind for what it’s worth. Considering all my talk of tape players and being stuck on one album of music when you chose to play something, this little selection is kind of a trip through time. Technology has certainly changed the way I at least listen to music. And of course, it is a trip through time, since I wrote it fifteen years ago. It takes us back through time, rather ironic considering the subjects running through my thoughts so much.
R.I.P., Kage Baker, one of the best…
Time travel has always interested me. A science fiction novel can just about automatically leap into my hands at a bookstore if it’s a time-travel story. I got hooked on Kage Baker’s Company series of novels principally because of the time travel element; I have to admit that at first the “immortal cyborgs” plot line didn’t appeal to me all that much, although now it’s hard to imagine those stories without those lively and interesting characters. For those of you who like science fiction, and may not have read Kage Baker‘s books, I highly recommend the entire series (and everything else she’s ever written).
Unfortunately, in creating the link above to her webpage, I discovered that she died on January 31. I am very sad this fine woman and wonderful writer has gone (and she was only a year older than I am).
But back to my little selection. Was it worth your time? Do you talk to yourself? I am afraid that I actually do, but generally not in such formal style as this. And I do have more to say on this post later.
She-who-must-not-be-named, by the way, is not Janet. But I figured the person in question, whether she reads this blog or not, would probably prefer to remain aloof from this kind of mindless meandering. Wouldn’t you? I know I would. Perhaps I wish I had second thoughts before I scheduled this to post. Oh, well, at least one reader—maybe—will respect or at least be interested in my honesty.
What we have for tomorrow was still uncertain, but it will be back to Mantorville soon (don’t worry, Dave). Right now I’m remembering that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, so I have to develop something special for that. And I find that I do have more to say on this piece soon, too. Until then, enjoy your weekend…
©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.The